Oddly, I keep encountering friends, relatives, and people on social media who have remained rather optimistic during this most impossible March. Admittedly, that would be odd to me under any circumstances, as I am not one who is naturally given to optimism. I think that every moment of pure joy has to be followed by ten or fifteen bad ones, so I am always waiting for a series of other shoes to drop.
I worry about those who aren’t expecting the worst because I think that they are all in for a rough few months.
When Major League Baseball missed Opening Day last week I had several conversations with sports fan friends about when the season might finally get underway. They were all convinced that it would. I brought a little rain to the parade and suggested that I wasn’t even sure that there would be an NFL season this year because of the virus lockdown.
This was all less than a week ago, when we thought things would be easing up, well, now. Things got a little bleaker on Sunday when President Trump extended the social distancing guidelines until April 30, effectively canceling Easter.
The guidelines are what some governors and mayors are using to enact more onerous protocols. Los Angeles has become a mini-police state. The entire Washington, D.C., area got the “stay-at-home” finger wag on Monday from the governors of Maryland and Virginia, as well as Washington’s mayor. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made his decree effective until June 10, no doubt relishing the opportunity to prove that he didn’t have to follow federal rules.
We even got a stay-at-home order here in Arizona on Monday, and we usually don’t play nice with the rest of the country like that.
The pit of my bureaucratic tyranny-loathing stomach keeps telling me that we are just getting started with the decrees and the threats from petty wannabe dictators to jail anyone who doesn’t comply with them. A lot can be done in the name of public safety by power-hungry people, and not much of it good.
We have yet to see the worst of things in New York City, Southern California, and Florida. If those numbers get — as many expect — much worse, you can be assured that Northam’s June 10 date will look like early parole. The certainty that the infection numbers will keep getting much worse for a while practically guarantees that the restrictions will be stricter and/or last longer. There is no way that bad news coming out of any of the population centers is going to lead to anything but a lengthening of our “stay at home for the public good” purgatory.
I am not someone who is advocating for us to all begin throwing block parties next weekend, but I am a bit concerned at the docility of the much of the American public thus far. We’ve shut down the economy and a lot of fiercely independent Americans have watched it happen unquestioningly, offering little more than a “Whaddya gonna do?” shrug.
At this rate, the possibility of a summer shutdown shouldn’t surprise anyone, but it probably will.
I don’t mind being responsible right now but I will keep advocating for the same thing I have been for three weeks now: something concrete. We need to press our municipal, state, and federal leaders for some specifics. Give us some metrics and a hard-out date. Tell us what needs to happen to infection rates by what date in order to trigger another date where we might begin to attempt to return to normalcy.
That’s not unfair. If x doesn’t happen, then y and z don’t either. At least we would know what the rules and parameters are.
At the moment, we are living in a world where officials are releasing criminals from jails to prevent the spread of an infection they weren’t spreading because they were in a confined space and those same officials are threatening to fill those jails with otherwise law-abiding citizens who leave their homes under a martial law that no one is calling martial law.
A few pesky demands from the citizenry are probably in order at the moment.
PJ Media Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author of “Don’t Let the Hippies Shower” and “Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.”